Sunderland striker Lee Connelly tipped to make an impact after signing a new contract
Elliott Dickman believes Sunderland youngster Lee Connelly can shine this season – having praised Jack Ross for handing opportunities to the club’s youngsters.
Connelly was one of nine academy graduates to pen a new contract last week, as he agreed terms on a two-year deal at the Academy of Light.
And with his future now secure, Dickman has backed his under-23 man to continue progressing towards the first-team after a ‘terrific’ campaign.
“He’ll be the first to tell you he had a little bit of a slow start,” said Dickman.
“But once he got his first goal he never looked back.
“In training he trains really well and you can see he has good quality in front of goal.
“Sometimes we're a bit wasteful in games in terms of getting the ball to him, but he manages to create something out of nothing from set-pieces.
“Since Christmas onwards he contributed goals, but for the whole season he was terrific.”
Connelly has already been afforded opportunities in the Black Cats’ first-team squad, having featured in the club’s run to the Checkatrade Trophy final as Ross handed opportunities to a clutch of exciting youngsters.
And Dickman has praised the Scot and his staff for their approach to the club’s young players – and hopes it will lead to more chances for the likes of Connelly moving forward.
“They’re brilliant, I can’t speak highly enough of them,” he added.
“They have a real close eye on the lads’ development and that’s how it should be.
“We’re part of the team and they’re at the top end, pushing and trying to win games. We’re here to support them in any way, shape or form we can.
“For me, that support is really positive and it’s something we’ve not always had. The fact we’ve got it now is fantastic really.
“We’ve got to provide players for the manager, and the good thing is the manager trusts these lads if he needs to give them an opportunity.
“The fact he sees them every day and watches our games means he sees it himself and it’s really positive.”
Former Sunderland ace Anthony Stokes, 30, is poised to sign for ambitious Turkish First Division club Adana Demirspor - according to a report.
Roy Keane signed the promising Republic of Ireland international for £2m from Arsenal in 2007, but Stokes failed to cement a starting position and was loaned to Sheffield United and Crystal Palace before leaving Wearside permanently for Hibernian in 2009.